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Learning Spanish

Plan a RS my-way Spain tour next spring. To learn some Spanish before we go, what language firm or style have you found most useful?? We know a little of the language now, but very, very little. We prefer an online version vs. a classroom setting. Thanks

Posted by
6410 posts

a class room setting with a teacher native speaker and other pupils is superior to online. Hopefully you have community college nearby

Posted by
3203 posts

Haven’t personally used it (yet) but an article from the library in the local paper this weekend describes them having Rosetta Stone available. The article reports that it’s “the most effective language learning software tested” by 10Top Ten Reviews, and was “Editors Choice for paid programs.”

Getting it free thru a library would be a bonus, but the librarian’s article made a compelling case for their language learning tool - Spanish and 29 others.
¡ Buen estudiando !

Posted by
2310 posts

I found Pimsleur to be helpful. My problem was I learned enough to ask questions but could not understand most of the answers! Google translate will be your friend when you are there. Less English spoken in Spain then you might think so learning some will help you.

Posted by
1701 posts

Another vote for Pimsleur - the most effective and convenient method we've found.
Can sometimes find free copies of the lessons thru your local library.

Posted by
11677 posts

The online course “Destinos” is free to watch and very entertaining. It is meant to be the equivalent of a college first-year course. Your library might have the accompanying textbook, or you could buy it. But even without that the videos are very good for practicing listening and understanding.

Posted by
1085 posts

I paid for 6 months of Babbel, online and ap, to freshen up my French. I have been disappointed with it. There is too much emphasis on spelling words rather than learning conversational phrases needed by a visitor. There are many lessons, but a majority are topics like at work, at sport's events, at home (room and furniture names), not traveler oriented conversations. However, my sister is using Duolingo and likes it very much AND it is a free ap.

Posted by
244 posts

I like to use Memrise, which is a similar app in some ways to Duolingo, but I feel like it introduces "useful" vocabulary sooner. The last time I used Duolingo, I felt like it spent a lot of time on improbable phrases about horses drinking milk to learn sentence construction. Regular use of Memrise got me set to do the basics in Germany.

Another option for Spanish is online Skype classes. I know there are Spanish schools in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, and other countries that offer this option. The accent and some of the grammar will be different, but you'd still get the basics you need (and probably there is something similar in Spain, but I don't have as much knowledge about it). Bonus - it may intrigue you about a new place and decide to go learn Spanish in person in a future adventure!

Posted by
2284 posts

Coffee Break Spanish, plus just general practice in the language.

Whatever "class" format you choose, it is important to also use real-life things to practice. I will watch netflix tv shows in Spanish (with Spanish subtitles, not English). It's surprising how much you can understand from context. At first I would watch kids shows, they are easier for obvious reasons. Now I watch regular shows, even though my Spanish isn't anywhere near that level - it's just good to train your ear. Also try podcasts. Articles. Talking to Spanish speakers if you know any.

I'm going to Austria soon and am trying to learn a bit of German, starting from absolutely zero knowledge. I find learning the basic grammar first helpful - how is this language structured? What's a verb ending look like? Then it's easier to slot in phrases from a phrase book, instead of just trying to learn a list of words.

Posted by
661 posts

John, you have to put in time to learn a language, so the best method would be the one you will do. You have plenty of time to make progress. I have been very happy with Pimsleur. I work on it every day. Lessons are 30 minutes, but the first time through it takes me about 45 minutes. I do each lesson 3 or 4 times.

There are free lessons out there that you can try and see how you like them. That is less if a commitment.

Posted by
36 posts

Got a smart phone? Download and play with Duolingo. Not saying this is all you should do. But use it as a game where ever you are. I learned a lot of german a couple years back just with this app.

Also there is no substitute for speaking with someone. Learn a couple phrases on Duolingo or any of the other suggestions above and then go say them to people. If you are in the US there is a spanish speaker close by.

Posted by
3925 posts

In my early 20's I took night school lessons with a few friends, it was all geared towards tourist related conversation which was the reason for most of the attendees. Unfortunately, whilst I was confident in asking questions or requesting something I was almost always entirely perplexed by the reply. Spanish people tend to speak very quickly and I struggled to understand the reply which had the effect of being quite reticent in applying my knowledge and subsequently the lack of use over the years has made me forget much of what I learnt.

My youngest asked for Spanish lessons due to the frequency in which we travel to Spain (they don't teach it at his school) so he's been having private weekly lessons with a school teacher who teaches Spanish. I'm often in the room with them when she's teaching him and I'm learning (and remembering) as much as he is but I still struggle with understanding the replies and that's with a native English speaker speaking Spanish.

There is also a perception that English is widely understood in Spain, it's not. Even on the Costa Del Sol, a place where the British have been vsiting en mass since the 60's, I've encountered supermarkets where none of the staff speak English (or are confident enough in their ability). Yes, you'll find very good English speakers at hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars etc but outside of these tourist centred places you will encounter little English spoken. However, with a few phrases, some gesticulation and some guesswork you'll normally encounter success.

Posted by
338 posts

I took three years of Spanish in high school, but it was very rusty, so several years ago I embarked on a journey to recapture what I knew and learn more. What will work best for you depends on your learning style. I hated Rosetta Stone because it is geared to visual learners. I loved Pimsleur because it is geared to auditory learners and does not require you to learn any grammar terminology.

I was able to get all the Pimsleur materials free through my public library system. I did all five levels! If you get through level 3 before your trip, you'll be in good shape.

Coffee Break Spanish is also quite good, but I used it only once my Spanish recovery was well underway, so I can't say whether or not it would suit your current level.

I also strongly recommend you get a phrase book that includes an audio component. This gives you the vocabulary that is most useful for traveling. Learn the numbers very well and how to ask directions, as well as food words.

Also useful, especially for restaurant menus: Google translate. I downloaded the Spanish module to my phone so I could use it irrespective of whether I had internet access. In a pinch, you can use it to type out a question in English and then show the Spanish to someone else and get them to type their answer in Spanish, which will get translated into English for you.

I agree with those who said that most people in Spain you will encounter outside of hotels do not speak English.

Posted by
234 posts

I found Collins Spanish with Paul Noble, from Audible, was very helpful. I listened in my car.

Posted by
145 posts

A friend recommended Duolingo recently, and I have a friend who became really fluent in several languages using Pimsleur. The key (as a previous poster mentioned) is to do whatever you are most likely to actually do. I used to play Pimsleur practice tapes/CDs in my car when driving places (school, work, the grocery store). I am not very tech savvy, but I assume there are apps and online language lessons these days that could work the same way--something you could just quickly click on and repeat after for the duration of your drive. I found that 5 minutes several times a day worked better for me than a 3-day a week class. I also have a friend who put tiny stickies all over her house with the Spanish word for the thing (refrigerator, window, chair, toilet), so every time she looked at or used the thing, she looked at and used the word. Doesn't work for verbs, but it's great for nouns!

And, of course, everyone will speak English in Spain. Our American melting pot is the only place I've ever found where we are stubbornly monolingual. But I think it's respectful to try to speak their language to the extent you can. I've found that the Spanish (or Italians or Germans, or even the French) will give a little smile at my pronunciation but then be appreciative of my effort.

Posted by
2310 posts

Monty wrote “And, of course, everyone will speak English in Spain. ”
Not true, sorry. Of all the Western European countries fewer people speak English, even the young people.

Posted by
646 posts

Start basic. I like the Berlitz CD this case, it's titled "Spanish for Your Trip". Check your local library. It is a good refresher for "waking up" your previous knowledge of the language. Numbers, days of the week, time, how to greet people, ordering in a restaurant, basic daily requests - all delivered simply with breaks to reply while engaged. A nice tutorial of elementary Spanish.

Posted by
168 posts

So, not idea, but DuoLingo (app) has a pretty easy class for Spanish -- it's not complete, but it's good for beginners. SayHi (another app) is pretty good for translating voice both from Eng to Span and vice versa. Google Translate's good, to (mentioned above).